In general terms Llamas are a relatively easy animal to keep provided that their owners fully understand that like all animals they will need daily care and attention to ensure that their health and quality of life can be maintained. It should also be borne in mind that llamas, like any other animal, can suffer from illnesses which may require veterinary care (with the associated costs) and they can die unexpectedly. If they are provided with plenty of good grazing, shelter, food and fresh clean water, Llamas will normally thrive and be quite happy with their lot in life.New owners tend to find themselves quickly forming a close bond with their llamas and get into a routine of checking them and interacting with them on a daily basis.It is also important to consider what type of llama you wish to buy and keep. A llama with a very long or curly coat may look fantastic in the show ring, but it can take a lot of husbandry to get it looking like that and then to keep it looking like that, particularly if that llama has been out in the fields all winter Ask someone at a show how long they spent washing, clipping and brushing their llama to get it in that condition. Llamas with short to medium length and straight fibre (classic llama) tend to be easier to groom as the fibre is naturally straight and so easier to comb, also they do not need to be shorn every year if their coat is brushed out.
How long do they live for?
Llamas are not short term pets. A healthy and well cared for Llama can expect to live for between 20 to 25 years, but as in all things in life, this is not an absolute certainty and their lives can be cut short due to a variety of reasons.
Do llamas spit?
Funnily enough this is the most commonly asked question we get and the simple answer is Yes, Llamas do spit. However, they do not normally spit at humans. Llamas use spitting as a warning sign to other Llamas to back off if they are being annoyed or trying to assert themselves within the herd. If a human decides to continually annoy or tease a Llama then it will spit at them.The only time that we have had llamas spit at us deliberately is if we are weaning young llamas from their mothers. They have never attacked us but they have spat at us for separating them from their loved ones (only to be expected really!!!).
What type of land is suitable for them?
Llamas are ruminants and need access to good grazing. However, they are extremely versatile climbers and jumpers and will thoroughly enjoy roaming around steep land and rocky outcrops. They will also enjoy exploring the depths of heavily wooded areas. Llamas also love to stand on top of hills from where they can view any possible threats.
What do they eat?
Llamas are ruminants and graze primarily on grass during spring, summer and autumn and hay during winter. However, they will also happily eat most types of shrubs, hedging, leaves on trees and weeds to supplement their diet. When being fed hay during winter months many people supplement their diets with hard foods such as Llama mix (now available quite widely throughout the UK), calf mix, goat mix or sugar beet pellets (does not have to be soaked). Quantities of hard feed are approx 4 or 5oz per llama per day.
How much do they eat?
Llamas actually eat very little and would not be suitable for grazing large fields in the same way sheep or horses do unless you had large numbers of them. In our experience we would estimate that one adult Llama eats about the same amount as a small sheep.
How often do Llamas reproduce?
Llamas give birth to one Cria (Baby Llama) at a time and the pregnancy lasts for approximately 345 days. The art of guessing the due birthing date is however not an exact science as many believe, llamas can and often do give birth weeks after or before their expected due date. This can be quite frustrating for some owners as the expected date comes and passes and they constantly monitor the mother. You can almost guarantee that the mother will give birth just when you give up checking every couple of hours. We are convinced that our llamas do it on purpose.One thing that we should add (in response to a true question we were asked) is that llamas do not lay eggs. Their babies are called cria and are live born.
How soon can a female mate again after giving birth?
Female Llamas come back into season and are normally ready to mate again just 2 weeks after giving birth. The male will smell when the female is back in season and will chase her and using his front legs he will use his weight to tire her until she cushes (sits down), he will then mount her and they will mate. During mating the male will make a lot of grunting noises and mating can last upwards of a hour. This mating behaviour will continue until the female is pregnant at which point she will spit the stud male away and he will lose interest in her (typical male eh!). For most breeders who keep their llamas at pasture all year, the female spitting the stud male off is a when they will start to count the days towards birth.
Do they need shelter?
Although they are hardy animals, Llamas still like shelter to protect them from very cold high winds and rain. If you have land with thick hedges and trees these can be an ideal place for them to shelter, alternatively they will need as a minimum a 3 sided lean to with roof that they can shelter in. Young cria and older llamas are most at risk from the elements and if the weather is cold, windy and wet the owners should strongly consider bringing them into a shelter otherwise there is a strong possibility of them suffering from hypothermia and dying.
What type of fencing do I need to keep Llamas?
Llamas are very inquisitive and like to explore and wonder around. They are also very powerful jumpers and we have personal seen an adult clear a 5' fence without touching it. However, our experience is that if a llama has companionship, shelter, good grazing, food and water, then they will quite happily stay in their paddocks. We have used both 4' Sheep fencing with an additional single strand of wire at the top and also double steel electric fencing with the middle strand at 2' and the top strand at 4'. Both have worked for us successfully for many years with no Llamas going on a walkabout. If you leave a gate open by accident then the Llama will certainly go an explore what is beyond it. We have also had 2 stud male llamas break 22mm high tensile wire to get at each other!!! They are extremely powerful animals.Note: If at all possible, you should avoid using barbed wire fencing as the llamas fibre can become heavily entangled in it, particularly if they have very long and dense coats. Also never ever attempt to electrify barbed wire fencing as an entangled llama will have no way of escaping from the constant electric shocks and more than likely suffer a long, horrible and unnecessary death.
What are Guard Llamas?
Guard llamas are not a different breed of llama, but simply a Llama which is ideally suited to the protection of other animals, be they sheep, goats, chickens etc. A guard llama is normally a gelded male that has shown a tendency towards bonding with and protecting other livestock, the Llama is usually kept totally isolated from other Llamas and monitored closely for his behavioural characteristics. An entire male Llama should never be used to guard sheep as he may attempt to mate with the ewes and this can kill them (due primarily to his heavy weight). there are many recorded instances of this occurring with the resulting death of hundreds of sheep within a single flock in the USA.
How do Llamas communicate?
Llamas communicate both physically and vocally depending on the message they wish to send and to whom. When all is well Llamas make soft and relaxing humming sounds to each other, when a lama is displeased or annoyed they point their ears back wards and screech at each other (usually followed by spitting if the warning is ignored). When a Llama spots something untoward which they consider a threat or out of the ordinary, they will stand bolt upright, head and ears pointed forward facing in the direction of the perceived threat and make a series of high pitched screeching sounds "eeee...eeee...eeee...eeee...eeee" (sounds a bit like a donkey but highly pitched) which quickly alerts the rest of the pack. We have had occasions where the llamas sound an alarm and only after fetching my binoculars and looking in the direction they are facing, have I noticed that there were some ramblers in a field about 1/4 of a mile away!!! They have very good eyesight and hearing.
Do Llamas play?
Our Llamas play quite a lot and during the spring, summer and autumn seasons, many of the younger Llamas can been seen running round the fields at full pelt (Llamas have a surprising turn of speed) as through they are playing tag. This often becomes infectious and end up with all of the Llamas running round after each other. Llamas also do what we call "po-go-ing" which is that they will bounce around on all four legs at a time which gives them a very strange but highly comical appearance.Young male llamas will often "Play fight" which is really just doing what comes naturally and practising for when they would in the natural world fight the current herd stud male for dominance. This playing can sound and appear very aggressive but does not normally lead to any injuries. As the youngsters get older , unless they are castrated, then these play fight can turn quite vicious and serious injuries can occur. Don't forget that in the wild, the looser of a battle can run far away and the winner will give up the chase, but in a field they are confined and the dominant male can continue the attack for as long as he feels the other male llama is a threat. A dead or severely injured llama is not a threat to him!
Do Llamas fight each other?
Llamas do fight but this is normally restricted to adult entire males fighting for dominance of the female herd. Unless you have significant amounts of land with which to separate adult entire male llamas we would never advise owning 2 entire males. When two males are owned it is normal to have one castrated. When entire male Llamas fight, they are very aggressive and during the fights they can cause each other significant injuries by using their 'fighting teeth' (located at the back of their mouths and serrated like sharks teeth) and could even lead to death of one of the llamas.Also see "Play fighting above".
Do they get on with horses?
Llamas can co-exist with horses quite easily provided that both the Llama and the horse have been introduced gradually. Our Llamas used to share both fields, shelters and food with our horses and there is never a reaction. However, when being introduced to a horse which has never seen a Llama before we always recommend that they be introduced slowly over the period of about 7 days, ideally with both animals in stables or fields from which they can view and get used to the site and scent of each other. Once they have fully accepted each other they can then be introduced into the same field.
Do they get on with dogs?
In their natural environment Llamas would consider any time of canine (fox, wolf or wild dogs) as a threat and possible predator and react as such. However, if the Llamas have been brought up from young to accept dogs then their reaction can be controlled. We would advocate the same approach as for horses with the dog(s) being introduced the the new Llama(s) slowly but surely. The only time we would never recommend a dogs going into a field with Llamas is when there are newborn Cria present. The Llamas natural instinct is to protect its young. After a few days the Cria can then be allowed to approach the dog(s) in their own time. Once they see that the mother has no problems with the dog(s) they will normally relax and then start to want to explore and sniff the dog. During the introduction process everything should be done slowly so as not to spook the Llamas.Do be aware that some brave young llamas who have lost their fear of dogs may also decide that it is a fun thing to chase the dogs. This has happened to us on numerous occasions when walking the dogs through the fields, the youngsters approach cautiously at first and then when they have decided that the dogs are not a threat they start to chase them around the fields, if the dogs stops the llamas stop and a stalemate occurs, when the dogs starts to walk off, the llamas start to follow again. One bark form our dogs and the youngsters can all be seen running at full speed back to mum for safety and reassurance (big brave llamas).
How much do Llamas cost
The price you can expect to pay for a Llama can vary enormously and will depend on a large number of factors which will include some of the following, the sex, age, conformation, fibre quality, markings, temperament, training, show rankings, if it is pregnant, and the list goes on. So as you can see there are a lot of variables which will impact on the price the breeders asking price. It must also be remembered that a breeder will also have the financial costs associated with running a registered business. If the price of a Llama seems high then you need to ask the dealer why, you must also ask yourself why you want Llamas and make sure that what you buy fits your needs. If you are looking for a Guard Llama or companion llama you will not want to pay the price for a top quality show Llama with a top notch pedigree. However, if you are looking for a Llama to enter into and win top llama show competitions, then you must expect to pay the price. Exactly the same logic applies to horses, dogs etc. As a basic guide a gelded male can start at around 750 Euros, an entire male could start at around 1,000 Euros, a proven stud male could cost upwards of 2-3000 Euros, an adult female suitable for breeding from around 2,500 Euros and a confirmed pregnant female around 3-4,000 Euros, a fully trek trained llama is around 2,000 Euros. These prices are only a guide as a lot will depend on a number of factors including, conformation, colouring, fibre quality, size, sex, character and levels of training. As a point of interest many years ago in the USA, I read that a top stud male once sold for $220,000. When considering the cost of a Llama it should be remembered that the professional breeder will have gone through the process and expense of keeping the mother, sometimes paying for stud fees, expending time and effort spent caring for, rearing and training the llama. There are also registration fees and Veterinary fees that will have been paid if applicable. Basically all the expenses that go with running a full time business and breeding and training high quality llamas. However, a high price does not necessarily mean that you will end up with a better llama than a one that costs a lower price.
Where should I buy a Llama
We would always advise that you purchase your Llamas from a Breeder where they will be able to provide you with ongoing support and advice whenever you need. Do your background research first, there is a wealth of free and informative information available on the internet or phone a number of breeders and get different views and opinions. There are a number of Llama Breeders who can advise you on purchasing your Llamas. Also make sure that you both speak the same language as in an emergency the Breeder will be able to provide you with essential advice over the phone and in a language you will understand.Make sure that you are shown llamas that suit the purpose for which you intend to use them. If you are looking to breed llamas for the next 20 years then you want proven females, or young females 2 years and above but if longevity is not an issue then an older llama may be suitable for your needs. Also remember that age will significantly influence the asking price, generally speaking, the younger the llama the higher the price.If you are looking for medium coated classic llamas do not buy long coated woolly llamas and vice versa. If a breeder states that the sire or dam was a champion then check when the sire or dam was a champion and ask to see pictures of what the sire or dam looked like when he/she won that particular championship as this will give an indication of the look of the bloodline. Also, paying a premium for top quality bloodlines is of little importance if you simply want pasture grazers.Many llamas are advertised as having won a prizes at a show, all this means is that of the llamas presented to the judges on that day at that show, that llama was chosen for a prize within a given category. There are many breeders who have absolutely stunning llamas with perfect conformation, but they simply do not want to show them (transport costs, time, preparation etc), so do not get to carried away with looking for “show champions”, they are not necessarily the best there is out there (but at the same time they might be!).Always ask if the llama has been sheared. Often people will view a llama and love the look of its coat and fibre without realising that that particular llama has an exceptionally woolly or long coat and needs to be sheared if it is to retain that look.Please beware of buying cheap over friendly young male llamas as these may have been over handled when young and this could result in a llama that can be potentially dangerous to humans when fully grown. Also if you are considering becoming a breeder, beware of llamas that are very cheap, not micro-chipped and have no registration documents showing their lineage, as there is always the possibility that these have been inbred and can contain genetic deformities.In France there are far to many places where llamas are kept in small confined areas that are total unsuitable for their well-being. During your visit, take note of the conditions where the llamas are being kept, are they kept on land where they can roam and graze, run and play or are they kept in a small coral..like being kept in a prison? If the breeder says that the llamas are only in a coral for you to view, then ask to see them let out into their pasture before you leave…If there is no pasture available, this will tell you a lot about the breeder and how much care and consideration they have for their llamas. Ask to see all the records that have been kept for each of the llamas. A good breeder should be able to provide details of lineage, any medical issues, medication given, vaccinations etc, microchip numbers and registration details, if these are not available then you should ask yourself why not!!! If the llamas were not bred by the breeder but are being sold on, ask yourself why?There are many llamas for sale in France, you need to exercise caution as there are people who simply want to take your money and will quite happily sell a llama to anyone regardless of its condition or suitability for what the purchaser wants or needs (these may not necessarily be the same!). There are also some web sites where you can simply click on the “Buy” button without ever even seeing the llama you are buying …….
Do llamas have wool?
No llamas do not have wool, llamas have fibre. the difference between the two is that wool (as in sheep wool) is solid and contains lanolin which is why you get greasy hands when handling sheep. Llama fibre on the other hand is hollow and does not contain lanolin. This is why llama fibre has excellent insulation qualities.Most llamas actually have two coats, firstly there have a fine undercoat which possesses excellent insulation qualities and provides them with protection during both winter and summer, then you have a courser outer coat which provides protection against the elements, wind, rain, snow etc. Llama fibre is measured in microns and has a range of between 20 & 40 microns. Thank you for visiting our web site, we hope you enjoy and benefit from the information and pictures provided for your pleasure.
Llama Trekking in France, Llama Training Courses in France